Monday, June 25, 2012

Henry Is Getting Older So Fast.


Henry is getting older so fast.

I think that’s the only sentence I need to write. I’ll just copy and paste that sentence each month and post a couple of pictures…

Okay, I guess I better get into some more details.

Henry is five months old now, he still hasn’t learned how to roll over from his stomach to his back, but he fell asleep the other night on his stomach which is much better than what he had been doing for weeks, rolling over onto his stomach in his sleep and waking up crying when he couldn’t get himself back over. For a week or so he was rolling over onto his stomach and crying so often that Carol or I had to sleep on the floor next to his crib so we could roll him back over and still catch a couple of Zs.

Henry has started eating solid foods and he really, really likes it. He’s had carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, and bananas. We mix the baby food vegetables/fruit with some baby rice cereal and he can’t get enough of it. Half the time he cries when you finish feeding him because he wants more. He’s drinking less and less milk and eating more and more solid foods. Feeding him is probably one of the most hilarious things ever. You have to put a bib on him because he manages to get food everywhere! He keeps getting better, but there are still times when you put the spoon to his mouth and he just doesn’t open up. My solution has been to sing to him or make sounds like a train or plane. Carol doesn’t have to do any of that silliness, Henry eats just fine for her; she’s the no nonsense one I guess. Another thing he does is that sometimes he really wants to hold the spoon himself. Sometimes he puts the spoon in his mouth, but sometimes he puts the wrong end in his mouth and sometimes he just plays with the spoon, so what I do is get two spoons and give him the second one to play with when he wants it. 

Henry is grabbing things more and more. He seems to favor his left hand when grabbing things so Carol is convinced we have a southpaw. I wear my wedding ring on a chain around my neck and Henry loves to grab it.

Henry got baptized at my parent’s church in Queens this month, a lot of my friends and family that hadn’t gotten to meet Henry yet got to see him and even hold him for a while. Lots of my friends can’t believe I have a kid. I don’t know if that’s because it makes them feel old or because they never pictured me as the responsible type. Maybe it's a little of both.


Both photos were taken by my Aunt Lawren who drove all the way from Rhode Island to meet Henry and see him get baptized. Lawren, thanks for coming to the baptism and taking these great shots. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

When Did the Doctor Become a God?

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I’ve been having more and more trouble with Doctor Who lately and I think I’ve finally put my finger on what the trouble is, the writers have fallen into the classic trap of making their hero too powerful. Superheroes like Superman go through this all the time. I mean if they do a story where Superman survives a nuclear explosion one month, it’s hard to find something to up the stakes the next month.

On the original Doctor Who series, the Doctor was a renegade Time Lord. Most of the time he was on the run from his own people. But, the Doctor didn’t elude capture because he was invincible or smarter than other Time Lords, he eluded capture because the Time Lords occasionally had a use for the Doctor, and so they let him get away. You see the Time Lords didn’t like to get their hands dirty fixing incongruities in time. They preferred to sit on Gallifrey and twiddle their thumbs. They were the Lords of Time, they had mapped out history until the end of time and they didn’t feel the need to worry about small details that would most likely resolve themselves or not affect the larger picture much. But even they had to admit that every once in a while a wrench was thrown into their grand plans.

The Daleks, for instance, were a large problem. They should not exist and yet they did. When they became a large enough problem, the Doctor was sent to the time of their creation in Genesis of the Daleks. They hoped that the Doctor would destroy them before they could ever be a problem, but unfortunately that’s not what happened.

But, that was the original series; at the start of the new series, we meet the 9th Doctor. This incarnation of the Doctor has been through “The Last Great Time War,” a war between the Daleks and the Time Lords that results in the mutual destruction of both races. (With the exception of the Doctor, the Master who was hiding, and the Daleks that pop up from time to time) Eventually we find out that the Doctor was responsible for not only stopping the Daleks, but also for destroying his own race.

When the new series started the writers must have thought that it was more exciting for the Doctor to be “flying without a net.” After all he’s the last of his kind, if he doesn’t solve the problem he can’t go back to Gallifrey and get help. Also, they thought that the Doctor would seem like a tragic figure who sacrificed his entire species to save the universe from the Daleks. But unfortunately, the time war also changed the Doctor from a happy-go-lucky adventurer into the most powerful judge, jury, and executioner in the universe.

As I said before, the Time Lords are called the Time Lords because they mapped out time until the end of the universe. The Doctor visits the end of the universe in the episode Utopia and humans are there. The Doctor says, “End of the universe and here you are. Indomitable!” Humans are the ultimate survivors, maybe that’s one of the reasons why the Doctor has taken such a shine to humanity.

The Time Lords are able to map out time because, the way time works on this series, there is only one path, one history. The TARDIS can’t normally go to alternate realities. That’s not to say that a time traveler can’t alter history, the TARDIS goes to tipping points in time every episode, but these tipping points are small potatoes, whether or not the Earth gets destroyed is only a footnote in the history of the universe.

But, it’s not small potatoes to the Doctor, so he goes from tipping point to tipping point and makes sure no one messes with his view of history. But why does the universe need constant saving? The Time Lords mapped it out. Did they miss that much stuff? Well, the Doctor typically encounters two types of problems. Problem one is an alien where he/she is not supposed to be. Typically, this is an alien invader on Earth. My theory is that these tipping points aren’t in the Time Lord master plan because it is the Doctor’s destiny to clear all this mess up. You see one of the running gags in the last few seasons with the Doctor’s girlfriend/wife River Song is that she leaves the Doctor notes with time coordinates in museums or on ancient cliff faces and the Doctor always comes to her rescue. But each time he claims he’s not going to help her again. I'm not gonna be there to catch you every time you feel like jumping out of a space ship,” he says in The Time of Angels. But, River just laughs and says, “And you are so wrong.” You see there are a near infinite number of these tipping points, but it is the Doctor’s destiny to visit them all and fix them. How do we know this? He’s the last of the Time Lords, who else is going to do it? Therefore he can’t die before all the points are dealt with. Therefore the Doctor can never die while dealing with alien invaders hence why the Doctor often gets so cocky.

However there is a second kind of problem he deals with, other time travelers. And this type of problem can get him in trouble. A time traveler can kill the Doctor because time travel is an x-factor, the Time Lords were the Time Lords because they were the only ones with time travel, and therefore other people time traveling wouldn’t fall into their master plan.

But, the Doctor is still too powerful. He is just one man (Gallifrian) and the fate of the entire universe is a lot to put on his shoulders alone. With the rest of the Time Lords gone he is effectively the God of the universe. He decides what species can and can’t do based on his morality and no one can stop him!

I think the last straw for me was in the season finale of the last season, The Wedding of River Song, where the Doctor tricked time. Yes, the Doctor tricked time itself into believing that the Doctor was dead. What?? How do you trick time? It’s not a person or an alien or a consciousness; it’s time. So we are now to believe that the Doctor can outsmart the very fabric of the universe. If that’s not like unto a God, I don’t know what is.

I think it is time for the Doctor to be de-powered, either he needs to lose his TARDIS or be told by some hereto-unseen powers of time and space that he exists only at their pleasure or he needs to meet an enemy that poses a real threat. Anything, to bring back the happy-go-lucky adventurer we all know and love.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Short Story of the Week (June 2012)


Back in March of 2010, when I started moderating the discussion of a short science fiction story each week, I didn't know much about short stories, but I knew that the stories we used had to be available online for FREE or the whole thing really wasn't going to work. One of the first websites that became a real resource for me was Best Science Fiction Stories because it not only had links to the stories online, but it also had reviews of the stories. Anyway, one day Rusty the man behind Best Science Fiction Stories joined my message board and at first I admit I felt like we had a celebrity in our ranks. But now I've gotten to know him a little bit and I no longer feel intimidated, now I feel like he's one of the guys.

Rusty is picking this month's short stories; here is what he had to say about himself:


Rusty is a person whose life is entwined with and dependent upon the Internet. Not only does he make his living as a web developer, but he uses the World Wide Web to further his passion of reading novels, short stories, comic books and ethnographies. (And he considers the Internet the ultimate way to do his Christmas shopping as well!) 

His first love affair with reading started with fantasy novels: "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant," however once he discovered the great Asimov he has only had eyes for science fiction.  He considers the "Foundation" series to be the greatest science fiction novels ever written, followed closely by the books of several other great SF authors, including Gene Wolf, Alastair Reynolds and China Mieville.

You can find Rusty reviewing a science fiction short story each week at his web site Best Science Fiction Stories, or you can learn more about him on his somewhat new and only occasionally updated personal web site The Rusty Boat.

Week # 1-  "Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain" by Yoon Ha Lee (2010)

This is the story of an old woman who possesses an ancient weapon that is both extremely powerful and exquisitely unique. I read this story last year when I was a pre-judge for The Million Writers Award, and it has stuck with me ever since. And apparently I'm not the only one who liked it, because it was a finalist for the 2011 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and it also appeared in 4 best of anthologies for 2010! An unbelievably cool story from an author whom I had never read before! This story, about some very creative weapons, was an absolute joy to read, and my only complaint was that it was too short! I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves great science fiction – you won’t be disappointed. 

Week # 2 "A Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury (1952)

Well, I had different story all picked out for this week, but in light of Ray Bradbury's passing I figured it would be appropriate to honor his memory by reading one of his short stories. This is the story of a man who travels back in time to hunt a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and the "little" mistake he makes while there. I first read this story in English class over 20 years as a sophomore in high school. I was blown away by it, and it helped spur my lifelong love affair with science fiction short stories. So, yeah, you could say it influenced me a little bit!

Week # 3 "Discerning Women" by William Highsmith (2009)

This week is a bit of a break as we take a look at a flash fiction piece about a woman who is called in for a bizarre interview by the ruling Braxian aliens. This is a funny story and is only a few pages long - so relax and let it put a smile on your face.  Then come back here and tell us what you thought of this little gem!

Week # 4 "Little Lost Robot" by Paul J. McAuley (2008) 
A story about a huge robotic war machine that cruises the galaxy destroying all intelligent life forms it can find.
Here are some orders of magnitude for seconds that may come in handy when reading the story:
120 Kiloseconds = 33 hours 20 minutes
.6 terraseconds = 19,013 years
1 terrasecond = 31,688 years
81.577 terraseconds = 2,585,012 years

Week # 5 Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Mike Resnick (2001)

It is about a company that creates a genetically engineered animal that will solve all the world's hunger problems... if people can overlook one small thing...

Book cover is from is from Books Should Be Free